Nurses association: Illinois licensing delays put patients ‘at risk’

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(The Center Square) – The Illinois House Healthcare Licenses Committee met with officials from the health care industry to go over potential solutions to speed up the licensing process.

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation licenses have been going out to their recipients slower than usual, causing some to be unable to work. Some licenses can take up to four to six weeks to be distributed to nurses, doctors or other practitioners.

Susan Swort of the American Nurses Association said something needs to be done soon because of a nursing shortage.

“We are in the midst of a nursing shortage. A delay in processing licenses doesn’t just inconvenience the nurse or the employer, it puts patients and their health care at risk,” Swort said.

Timothy Kinsey, president of the Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants, said the process has improved but still fails to renew licenses swiftly.

“While the licensing situation at IDFPR has improved from previous administrations, and IDFPR staff has been very responsive to questions, several recent cases have shown the department can not process PA licenses promptly,” Kinsey said.

State Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, said workers have been leaving the state to find work in other places due to waiting for licenses.

“We need to focus on making this a priority,” Hauter said. “This is costing patients their care, their suffering and it is costing Illinois its highly trained professionals.”

State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, echoed Hauter’s points, saying the licensing issue should be No. 1 on their list of problems to fix regarding health care.

“The loss of health care professionals directly ties into the delay of health care services,” said Morgan. “This is perhaps the most significant health care challenge in the state of Illinois at this moment.”

David Porter of the Illinois State Medical Society said fixing the process is the No. 1 issue facing Illinois physicians.

“One of the issues of utmost importance to physicians is the overall effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the licensing renewal process,” Porter said. “We hear from many physicians that the Illinois licensing process is overly difficult, takes too long and provides an applicant with virtually no transparency regarding the status of one’s application.”

Mario Treto, Jr., of IDFPR, said their equipment is unable to care for the demands of the 21st century.

“The system is from the last century, it is from the 1990s,” Treto said. “The only way for this crisis to be solved is for IDFPR to obtain the necessary approval to put in place a new system.”

In the next legislative session, legislators will look to eliminate policies they deem outdated to speed up the process. Lawmakers return to fall session on Oct. 24.

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